HOSPITALS were said to have been told to prepare for a coronavirus vaccine in as little as nine days – with NHS staff expected to be at the front of the line.
NHS bosses have said hospitals in England could expect their first vaccine deliveries from Pfizer-BionTech as early as December 7, The Guardian reports.
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According to hospital sources, NHS England said it should expect to get stocks of the vaccine on December 7, 8 or 9.
And officials are quietly confident the UK can get the US and EU to get the life-saving vaccine first.
Only NHS staff will be vaccinated initially, with nursing home residents and vulnerable over 80s having to wait.
It comes as experts believe the Pfizer vaccine should not be moved more than four times as it risks becoming ineffective, making transportation to nursing homes difficult.
When it reaches UK hospitals it will have been moved twice – from Pfizer’s production plant in Belgium to storage centers in Britain and from there to hospitals.
A senior hospital official told The Guardian: “We were told to wait for the vaccine on December 7 and plan to start vaccinating our staff all this week.
“However, this is the Pfizer vaccine that we get, so it cannot be moved again once it gets to us and then we have to use it within five days because that’s its shelf life.
“The original plan was to do the nursing homes first. But once the vaccine gets to us, it cannot be used in the community, so only NHS staff will be able to have it, at least initially.
The December 7 rollout will depend on whether the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved it on time.
The regulator has been evaluating the vaccine for more than a week, since a formal request from Matt Hancock.
An executive from another hospital said: “Officially, it is assumed that the government will follow the advice of JCVI.
“But in practice, the NHS will vaccinate NHS staff with the Pfizer vaccine, and quite quickly, due to its short shelf life. So it will be NHS staff who get it first. ”
Nursing home residents and the elderly are likely to have to wait for the AstraZeneca jab vaccine developed in Oxford, which the government has referred to the MHRA.
Unlike Pfizer, it does not need to be frozen at -70 ° C to -80 ° C and can be easily moved by healthcare workers administering injections in nursing homes.
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But the agonizing wait will be a blow to nursing homes across the country.
Martin Green, Managing Director of Care England, which represents the UK’s largest nursing home providers, said: “We are committed to ensuring that nursing home residents are the first in the queue. .
“The reason is that they are the most likely to die from the virus. This commitment must be honored. “